Sunday, June 15, 2014

Wandering Faster

Well, I've already had more than one person ask if we were pregnant again (!), so I guess I didn't word that bit on our last post about how we had a "big surprise that will change our lives" very well!

No, just to clarify.  It's a surprise that changes our lives, sure, but not THAT much.  It is something that allows the Wandering Family to increase the range and extent of our wandering - a new car!  Well, not new.  New to us, though.  It's a 2005 Toyota Succeed, with the extremely dubious figure of 160,000 kilometers on the odometer (many Russian cars have had their odometers wound back).  Not that we're complaining, though, it's the first time anyone in our family has owned any car that was fewer than 10 years old, and we love it.

Obviously, purchasing a car meant taking a trip over the mountains out of T-land, to a magical city known as Krasnoyarsk.  Ah, Krasnoyarsk.  A city with peanut butter and marshmallows in the stores, a city with fast food restaurants with displays for kids to poke their heads through for photos, a magical place!

Sadly, I didn't actually take very many pictures there.  It would look too much like your home city to be interesting, anyway.  Much better is the beautiful Siberian scenery on the way:

Eventually, driving our own car (full of peanut butter, marshmallows, and the like, of course), we got back home.  One tire blowout on the road, but fixed quickly enough.

I must be turning Russian, because where in America I would almost never wash my car, I felt a compulsion to go down to the river to enlist my sons in a project to immediately wash off all the dirt the road had added to our new baby.

They hated it

Oh, and I just popped this post up really quickly to avoid any more of you thinking we were going to announce a pregnancy any time soon (seriously, not happening), but thought some might be interested to see the latest progress in our little experimental garden.  From front: American spinach, sweet peas, salad greens, and Russian spinach, all growing nicely so far.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014


Summer is the best, isn't it?  Especially when it comes after 7 months of winter!  So, what do we do here when it heats up?

Well, Bobbie does this year-round, but the first picture I have is of some of the cakes she made this month.  She started doing this a few years ago for some friends and it has blossomed into a sort of tiny cakes-for-order business.  No money is made, but fun is had, and more importantly relationships are strengthened.  This one was part of an order for a party for some kids leaving kindergarten to start school in the fall.

Above: school-related items, below: a copy of a Russian cake she found online with a stylized figure going off to school.

Last post we mentioned Matthew's birthday, and one of the presents he got was a swing.  Unfortunately, all of the playgrounds we have here are missing their swings (with one exception - I think we posted a picture of the lone surviving swing in the city a few posts back?).  Anyway, we don't leave this one out on the playground because it will get stolen but I rigged up a way to hang it up with ropes and we can set it up in just a few minutes every time we go outside.

The other fun outdoor project of late has been a garden!  Our pine nut facility has to have a rather large area as there are sanitary requirements for the septic to be at least 50 meters from the well.  So, we have a lot of space behind the building that's not being used for anything, and we decided to take advantage to see if we can't grow a few things there.  Just three raised beds (all Russian gardens are raised beds, pretty much), so it's more of an experiment than anything but the boys still love it.

Of course, all of our friends think the expanse is the perfect place to plant potatoes and can't understand why we wouldn't just do that.  Perhaps this illustrates a difference in cultural values, but my take on it is that potatoes are so cheap in the fall as to be virtually free, and I don't see the point in putting in all the labor to grow them if I can just buy them for next to nothing.  

So what did we plant instead?  Mostly long shots, plants we brought over from America that we can't get here in the stores.  Sweet corn and especially okra are very unlikely to succeed, but who knows?  If you're growing a garden for fun you may as well take a few chances on stuff like that and hope to get lucky.  Most of the rest (spinach, peas, squash, Swiss chard, salad greens, lettuce, and Brussel sprouts) should do pretty well.  In fact, since I took these pictures a week ago most everything has at least sprouted, so we'll see how it goes.

Our soil had to be reinforced with some organic material as it was pretty much just a sandy loam (I knew there would be some benefit to that soil science class all those years ago!) and the boys have had a great time with it all.

Unfortunately it requires a good deal of water as it runs right through the sandy subsoil, but that's why we had boys, right?  

Found this interesting: a pretty decent-sized snake on our property the other week, sunning itself.  Don't know how they make it through the winters; must be a pretty deep cave somewhere around?

The pine nut facility, by the way, is in full swing.  This is a picture of one day's produce - around 100 kg.  You may think "wow, that's nothing" but it's worth a decent chunk of change and if we can be consistent with that amount we can start heading towards profitability in short order.

Boxes loaded up onto pallets, ready for someone to pay us for them so we can send them out!  Recent contacts with potential customers have been encouraging so hopefully in a few weeks we'll have fewer pallets just sitting there.

This is what the boxes look like right before they get sealed; 4 vacuum-sealed bags of 3 kilograms each in every box.  That's an awful lot of yummy!

 Again, as always, thanks for stopping by.  We love you guys and look forward to hearing from you - see you again in a few weeks.  In fact, we should have a surprise in our next post, something that will be sure to change the lives of the Wandering Family!